TQW Magazin
Lucía Ugena and Carlotta Partzsch on Rakete Part 2: NEUM, Agnes Bakucz Canário

Rituals of Self-Sacrifice and Healing


Rituals of Self-Sacrifice and Healing

Carlotta: One thing that both pieces of the 2nd Rakete Festival evening had in common was the feeling of sacredness. Entering the room of the first performance, Live by NEUM, meant stepping into a special, somehow sacred atmosphere. At first, I only saw the electric drum kit standing in the middle of the room. The audience huddled along the walls on the floor. I couldn’t see the performers properly. But I heard the singing, which was monotone, consistent, clear and beautiful, yet at the same time eerie. The light was greenish and too low for me to clearly make out what I was seeing. Then I noticed the person lying on their stomach on the floor, head bent forward, producing the singing we heard. The audience were quiet and focused, observing the scene.
The second performance, SADIS-ROSE by Agnes Bakucz Canário, also had a vague quality to it. The room was foggy. Once again, we, the audience, stepped into an almost holy space. There was no obvious area for the spectators; people found seating on podiums distributed throughout the room. Some sat beneath ballet bars. And despite this informal arrangement, the ritual energy was incredibly strong.

Lucía: But the approach to the sacred was almost opposite. In Live, the action was painful, there was a sacrifice performed through repetitive movements and limitations of the body. First, the voice came from the ground, with the body being weighed down, while later it came from high up, after one of the performers climbed on the other’s knees, creating a joint figure in tension. Penance was expressed by this will to keep a steady pace while being in pain. The movement of the drummer’s body toward the tom-tom was almost mechanical, displaying a fixed focus analogous to the movement of an avatar while dancing, a determined motion.

C: Yes. Both performances conveyed the experience of exposing oneself to a strange, almost spiritual scene, but they had very different effects on me. While NEUM’s performance worked with limitations, the other performance seemed to reject any limitation: the first piece was heavy, almost demanding, while the second dissolved the tension. If the audience were slightly unsettled after the first performance, the second lifted them up again. Thus, the connection between the two works in one evening felt very cohesive.

L: As you say, SADIS-ROSE released the tension. On entering, the figure SADIS-ROSE added a solemn presence to the room. She meandered slowly through the room towards a harpist who accompanied her. The dancer played with her costume to remain covered, partially unseen. Since the scene was not frontal, I could trace her only through the body of the audience, through the heads of the people sitting on the podiums in front of me. The sacred was about to be reached in a multidirectional dialogue: a dialogue with the curtains and the spotlights that opened the different scenes. The figure moved the spotlights, changed the color of the light and opened curtains that lead nowhere. And we, the audience, were contained within the scene. The dance evolved, too, through the costume she wore: as she opened the zippers of her dress one at a time, the movement changed with it. Light on the shoes that matched at times and at others didn’t.

C: Another thing that also generated a contrast was: while the movements in NEUM’s piece seemed almost like a punishment, SADIS-ROSE appeared to act spontaneously and according to her needs. Her movements were natural and she navigated the space as if she were simply going wherever she felt drawn. When she danced, she danced because she wanted to. Even when she pulled out the e-cigarette and shared it with the audience, it seemed like it was just a spontaneous impulse. I really liked that.

L: Right. SADIS-ROSE came to most of us and gave us, among other things, the option to vape. There was change and there was repetition within the change, there was voice. She left the room singing: you and I in the afterdeath. The tension was dissolved in dialogue with pleasure that included us. My phone fell to the floor twice.

C: For me, the atmosphere was oddly healing. Agnes made the audience feel comfortable but also somewhat exposed, albeit gently.
I noticed that more and more people started to sway to the music. As you said, SADIS-ROSE interacted with the audience without directly engaging them. It was a dance between distance and intimacy. She came up to us, looked us in the eyes, and then moved away again before we could decide how we felt about it. It was, in fact, like a spiritualist séance; all the spectators were drawn into a kind of spell. This enchantment had a lasting effect that I felt for days after the evening.



Lucía Ugena (she/her) is an artist and researcher born in 1995. Originally from Madrid, she is based in Vienna. In her work, she tackles the fragmentation of experience through the inscription of figurative painting and writing in space. She is currently completing her master’s in Critical Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where she also studies Fine Arts. She holds a BA in Philosophy and Law from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Carlotta Partzsch (she/her), born 1998, works primarily on topics related to ecology, feminist theory and mental health. She writes for various media and is part of a self-organized writing group. Carlotta holds a BA in Literature and Political Science and is currently enrolled in the Critical Studies MA programme.